In a prior blog post we reported about a unit owner who was awarded damages payable by the owner’s tenant as compensation for damages resulting from the unit being rented out on Airbnb multiple times without the owner’s knowledge or consent.
It’s not just condominium tenants that are renting units using short-term on-line rental platforms such as Airbnb. Some unit owners, themselves, are engaging in such rentals, often in contravention of the condominium documents. In those situations, it is the condominium corporation that takes on the battle to stop these rentals.
In a recent case a condominium owner in Vancouver was renting as many as 15 beds a night on a short-term basis in her 3-bedroom, 5-storey townhouse in contravention of the condominium by-laws. The by-laws specified that units could not be used for any purpose other than “as a private dwelling home”. They also prohibited rentals of less than 6 months and specifically prohibited the use of the units for “short term rental accommodation such as a bed and breakfast, lodging house, hotel, home exchange, time share or vacation rental”. The owner completely ignored the by-laws and listed her unit on-line as the Oasis Hostel.
The owner’s short-term rental activities were also in violation of the City of North Vancouver’s zoning by-laws and other regulations. Not only was the owner using her unit as tourist accommodation, but the owner was illegally using basement space as a habitable room, which compromised the safety of those occupying the basement space. Inspections conducted by the City noted vending machines in the hallways – this was further evidence of the commercial nature of the owner’s rentals. Despite receiving cease and desist letters from the City, the owner continued her rental activities.
In September of 2017 the British Columbia Civil Resolution Tribunal ordered the owner to immediately stop using the unit for short-term rental accommodation and to comply with the condominium by-laws. The Tribunal also ordered the owner to pay the fines that had been levied by the strata association for breaching the condominium by-laws. (Note: British Columbia legislation allows strata associations to levy fines for breach of the condominium documents. However, condominium corporations in Ontario are not permitted to levy fines.)
It was recently reported in the media that the owner remains defiant and is continuing her rental activities despite the decision of the Civil Resolution Tribunal and an order by the British Columbia Supreme Court enforcing payment of the fines. In an unsuccessful petition which the owner filed with the British Columbia Supreme Court, the owner claimed that she was being unfairly targeted and threatened, when all she was doing was providing a much-needed service to foreign students and immigrants who needed an affordable place to stay.
When defiant owners and tenants refuse to co-operate and cease renting their units on a short-term basis, condominium corporations and unit owners unfortunately may have to commence multiple legal proceedings before the offending rental activities are stopped once and for all.
While Airbnb and other on-line rental platforms may have started with homeowners wanting to rent an extra unused bedroom in their home, it has now evolved to where many hosts are using these platforms to conduct commercial lodging facilities in homes intended for private residential use.